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Monthly Safety Topic

Hazards Under Pressure

Compressed gas cylinders can be a deadly hazard in the workplace when handled improperly.  Many cylinders contain pressures in excess of 2000 pounds per square inch (PSI) that can cause them to become a rocket.  For this reason, industries that depend on compressed gasses to perform jobs created several important guidelines for storage.

A cylinder stored in an upright position and securely fastened is safe if the valve is knocked off or in the unlikely event that heat causes the valve to come off.  When the cylinder contains high pressure and the valve is suddenly removed, Newton’s Law of Opposite Reaction comes into play.  If properly stored on a solid floor, the cylinder will exert downward force and spend its contents without any damage (unless it is an explosive or flammable gas).

When an explosive or flammable gas is contained in the cylinder, it must be secured as previously mentioned and in an area clear (20 feet or more) from a heat source.  The area of storage must also allow for air movement so that any escaping gas will dissipate and not become concentrated in one area.  If the cylinder contains inert gas that does not mix with other air, it can push life-sustaining oxygen out of a work area and cause suffocation.

Check your cylinders to make sure they are secure.  Many workplaces let their guard down and become complacent when it comes to properly securing cylinders.  Using rope or other types of material that can burn, be damaged by heat, or chemicals are not the best practice.

During this week’s safety contact meeting, discuss the types of gas used in your work area and their potential to create danger.  Inspect the area and make sure that cylinders are stored properly so that you reach the goal: Nobody Gets Hurt.

OSHA 1926.350(a)(4)

When cylinders are transported by powered vehicles, they shall be secured in a vertical position.

OSHA 1926.350(a)(9)

Compressed gas cylinders shall be secured in an upright position at all times except, if necessary, for short periods of time while cylinders are actually being hoisted or carried.

OSHA 1926.350(b)(1)

Cylinders shall be kept far enough away from the actual welding or cutting operation so that sparks, hot slag, or flame will not reach them. When this is impractical, fire resistant shields shall be provided.

OSHA 1926.350(b)(3)

Fuel gas cylinders shall be placed with valve end up whenever they are in use. They shall not be placed in a location where they would be subject to open flame, hot metal, or other sources of artificial heat.


Consider these Questions

1. Whether empty or full, gas cylinders shall be secured in _______ position at all times with use of a chain or equivalent.

a) a horizontal

b) an upright

c) a tilted

d) any


2. Gas cylinders shall be kept away from ____________ where sparks could reach them.

a) heat

b) welding operations

c) radiators

d) All of the above are correct

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